Between our own supply of sustainable timber, what we source from the EU, and what we import from Russia, these three sources account for more than 90% of timber consumed in the UK.
This market is supported in part by the customs union with EU, which allows for frictionless trade of wood and wood products. Under this arrangement, these goods do not face import duties or tariffs.
When timber is imported from outside the UK, unless the EU has a Free Trade Agreement in place, or the country is subject to a Generalised Scheme of Preference (GSP), the product will be subject to WTO Tariffs. This is not the only aspect which changes between trading with countries outside the common market.
Going forward for British trade, the UK and the EU have signed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement, agreeing to 100% tariff liberalisation. This means there will be no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods we produce between the UK and the EU.
Many products are tariff-free as the EU already imposes zero-tariffs on all logs and rough sawn timber, together with all finished wood furniture, as well as for all types of wood fuel, including chips, pellets, charcoal, sleepers, tools, shuttering, shingles and shakes, posts and beams, glulam, tableware and kitchenware.
One significant change is the coniferous plywood quota. The EU provided the UK with up to 650,000m3 of coniferous plywood to be imported duty-free each year after which 7% duty is applied. Now the UK has left the EU, the UK has applied a quota to this product, allowing the first 167,352m3 of coniferous plywood to be imported duty-free for the UK and Northern Ireland, after which 6% duty will be applied. This number represents the average of over 5 years of UK receipts against the EU quota. The tariff quota number is 050013.
When timber is imported from countries outside the common market, the role of a timber merchant changes. They move from being considered a ‘trader’ to an ‘operator’ under EU Timber Regulations.
Traders include any person or business who sells or buys timber or timber products within the EU, and they have an obligation to maintain and keep records of both where they sourced there timber and who they sell it to for at least five years.
Operators, as the first person or business to place timber on the market, must maintain these records as well as implement a due diligence system. Our members are subject to mandatory third party auditing, under our world leading Responsible Purchasing Policy system.
Like any other good entering the UK, wood and wood products must be assigned an appropriate custom code. It is up to the importer, or ‘Declarant’ to ensure that all information is correct for VAT purposes.
Responsible sourcing and due diligence are essential for preventing the entry of illegal timber into the EU market, helping combat climate change, and ensuring timber is harvested sustainably.
Another important duty of timber traders, under EU Construction Product Regulations, is to ensure goods they trade carry an appropriate CE Mark from the manufacturer, indicating their performance against harmonised EU standards.